‘Buck Henry,’ Legendary Comic Actor and Writer, Dies at 89
Buck Henry holds a unique place in American comedy, having left an enormous mark on the worlds of film and television, behind the camera and in front of it. Sadly, Deadline reports Henry has died of a heart attack at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 89 years old.
As a performer, Henry is probably best known for his appearances on Saturday Night Live, where he was one of the show’s most frequent hosts during its early years, appearing on 10 separate occasions. A consummate straight man, Henry was John Belushi’s foil in his famous samurai sketches. He also played key roles in the immortal “Olympia Restaurant” sketches, some of my all-time personal favorites:
Henry’s work in television also includes co-creating the spy spoof series Get Smart with Mel Brooks. If you’ve ever seen and laughed at the show’s famous “Cone of Silence” gag, you have personally benefited from Henry’s genius. Henry won an Emmy for his writing on the show.
As a screenwriter, Henry’s most famous work was probably adapting The Graduate with Calder Willingham. He also co-wrote Peter Bogdanovich’s wonderful screwball comedy What’s Up, Doc? and Gus Van Sant’s To Die For. He co-wrote (with Elaine May) and co-directed (with star Warren Beatty) Heaven Can Wait, the popular 1978 remake of the play and film Here Comes Mr. Jordan. (Henry earned Oscar nominations for his Graduate and Heaven Can Wait screenplays.)
These few credits barely scratch the surface of his full filmography and legacy. If you want to watch more, check out some of his old SNLs, or a few Get Smarts, or Heaven Can Wait — which is currently available on Starz. The unique and brilliant comic perspective he infused into these projects will ensure he will be remembered for many years to come.
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